Skip to main content

Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

See other formats


MODERN  HINDTTIS3L                                                      191
DakMn and the remote regions of Eastern Bengal, to which the sword of Islam
tad scarcely extended, and where no inveterate antipathy had been created, the
contingency appeared less Improbable. Accordingly, it was in those parts of
India that the great teachers of the reformed Yaishnava creed first meditated
and reduced to system those doctrines, which it was the one object of all their
later life to promulgate throughout Hindustan. It was their ambition to elabo-
rate a scheme so broad and yet so orthodox that it might satisfy the require-
ments of the Hindu and yet not exclnde the Mnhammadan, who was to be ad-
mitted on equal terms into the new -fraternity ; all mankind becoming one great
family and every caste distinction being utterly abolished.
Hence it is by no means correct to assert of modern Hinduism that it is
essentially a non-proselytizing religion; accidentally it has become so, but only
from concession to the prejudices of the outside world and in direct opposition
to the tenets of its founders.    Tiieir initial success was necessarily due to their
intense zeal in proselytizing, and was marvellously rapid.    At the  present day
their followers constitute the more influential, and it may be even numerically
the larger half of the Hindu population:  but precisely as in Europe so in.
India no two men of "the reformed sects, however immaterial their doctrinal
differences, can be induced to  amalgamate;   each  forms a new caste more
bigoted and exclusive than any  of those which it was intended to supersede,
while the founder has become a deified character, for whom it is necessary to
erect a new niche in the very Pantheon he had laboured  to destroy.    The
only point upon which all the Vaishnavas sects theoretically agree is the rever-
ence with which they profess to regard the" Bhagavad Gita as €he authoritative ex-
position of their creed.    In practice their studies—if they study at all—are direct-
ed exclusively to much more modern compositions, couched in their own verna-
cular, the Braj Bhasha.    Of these the work held in highest repute by all the
Brinda-ban sects is the Bhakt-BialiL, or  Legends of the  Saints, written by
Nabha Ji in the reign  of Akbar  or Jahangir.    Its   very first couplet is a
compendium of the tiieory upon which the whole Yaishnava reform was based :
Bkakt-bhakti-Bhagavant-guraj ehatura nam, vapu ek :
which declares that there is a divinity in every true believer, whether learned
or unlearned, and irrespective of aM caste distinctions. Thus the religious
teachers that it celebrates are represented, not as rival disputants—winch their
descendants have become—but as all animated by one faith, •which varied only
in expression; and as all fellow-workers in a common cause, viz^ the moral and
spiritual elevation, of their countrymen. Her can, it be denied that the writing